Waiting for Daisy
A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Fertility Doctors, An Oscar, An Atomic Bomb, A Romantic Night, and One Woman’s Quest to Become a Mother
“Peggy Orenstein’s journey [is] suspenseful [and] … unsparing.… It’s to Orenstein’s considerable credit that even when she’s naked from the waist down, she never really takes her reporter’s hat off, applying the same measured scrutiny to a -junior-high-school boyfriend with a brood of 15 or the plight of women left barren and disfigured by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima as she does to her own ultimately happily resolved situation.… Orenstein’s interrogation of her own profiteering pregnancy retinue comes across as a welcome, even necessary exposé.”
— The New York Times "Book Review"
IN A MEMOIR with the power and resonance of The Year of Magical Thinking, and the quirky humor of Operating Instructions, one of the nation’s preeminent writers on women’s issues spins the astonishing story of her six-year journey to motherhood.
Waiting for Daisy is about loss, love, anger and redemption. It’s about doing all the things you swore you’d never do to get something you hadn’t even been sure you wanted. It’s about being a woman in a confusing, contradictory time. It’s about testing the limits of a loving marriage. And it’s about trying (and trying and trying) to have a baby.
Orenstein’s story begins when she tells her new husband that she’s not sure she ever wants to be a mother; it ends six years later after she’s done almost everything humanly possible to achieve that goal, from “fertility sex” to escalating infertility treatments to New Age remedies to forays into international adoption. Her saga unfolds just as professional women are warned by the media to heed the ticking of their biological clocks, and just as fertility clinics have become a boom industry, with over two million women a year seeking them out. Buffeted by one jaw-dropping obstacle after another, Orenstein seeks answers both medical and spiritual in America and Asia, along the way visiting an old flame who’s now the father of fifteen, and discovering in Japan a ritual of surprising solace. All the while she tries to hold onto a marriage threatened by cycles, appointments, procedures and disappointments.
Waiting for Daisy is an honest, wryly funny report from the front, an intimate page-turner that illuminates the ambivalence, obsession, and sacrifice that characterize so many modern women’s lives.
“Add to the best literature of motherhood Peggy Orenstein’s searing account of her six-year quest to have a child. The story of what she put her body through is beautifully and movingly rendered, but it’s her honesty in examining her own mind and heart that make Waiting for Daisy such a courageous and unforgettable book. I was enthralled.”
—Ann Packer, The Dive from Clausen's Pier
“Moving and bittersweet, Waiting for Daisy is as funny, thoughtful, biting, reflective, as filled with fruitful self-doubt and cautious exuberance, as its author.”
—Michael Chabon, The Adventures of Kavelier and Clay
“An absolutely wonderful book. I couldn’t put it down: it reads as easily and yet with as much texture as a novel. As always, Orenstein, is both so smart and so human as she tells her story — and ours, too — about her marriage, career, indecision, breast cancer, and whether or not she can, and wants to, and ought to, get pregnant. Sometimes the writing is wrenching, sometimes very funny, but always profoundly honest and engaging.”
—Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions
“Orenstein’s nakedly honest account of her decision at age 35 to have a baby and her ensuing struggle to do so reads like a detective thriller. Each new attempt brings hope and inevitable disappointment. In her search for a solution, she visits fertility doctors and alternative practitioners, considers adoption, and almost destroys her marriage. She does not spare herself from criticism, acknowledging how monomaniacal she became in her quest and pondering how her increasingly desperate race against her biological clock squares with her strong feminist politics.”
— Elle magazine, Winner “The Elle’s Lettres” Readers’ Prize, February 2007
“Inspiration and solace come in copious quantities in Peggy Orenstein’s dazzling new memoir, a heart-rending account of her six-year quest to conceive a child. [Orenstein] recounts an Olympian odyssey to motherhood that includes daunting obstacles while also racing along with the pulse-pounding tenseness of a thriller. So remarkable is Orenstein’s account that it seems likely to become the platinum standard for memoirs regarding couples struggling to become parents … the greatest strength of her memoir is her resounding ability to surmount the far greater writing challenge — capturing the rocky emotional landscape she and her husband traversed… Waiting for Daisy accomplishes many valuable things in just 226 pages. But one of the most valuable is fostering profound respect and empathy for couples who endure great struggles trying to become parents.”
— Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Waiting for Daisy is riveting… It’s no small feat to write a page turner that gives away the ending on the dust jacket, but Waiting for Daisy is more than just the Perils of Peggy. Orenstein has written a memoir, a confession, a polemic and a love story all at once, describing the most frantic and confusing period of her life with clarity and candor.”
— Los Angeles Times
“This may be the most honest book written about the tsunami of emotion that hits women when what should come most naturally — reproduction — becomes instead one vast, expensive science experiment.… Daisy is a fine meditation on what it means to live a fulfilled life.”
— 4 Stars, “Critics Choice” People magazine
“She treats her efforts to become a mother with intelligent skepticism and a brazen sense of humor… One of the best things about this book is that when she succeeds in her quest Orenstein refuses to take refuge in the smug pieties so prevalent in fertility discussions. When a friend tells her that everything happens for a reason, Orenstein bristles (bless her!). As Daisy moves on through life, and her mother and father move with her through the parenting maze, it would be interesting to hear Orenstein’s intelligent, skeptical voice ruminate on the next stages. For if any writer has the verve and tenacity to supersede the typecasting of Mommy Lit, it’s Orenstein.”
— The Washington Post “Book World”
“The Rocky of infertility memoirs.”
— New York Magazine
“A Roller-Coaster Ride to Motherhood”
—San Francisco Chronicle, February 25, 2007
“A Writer’s Remarkably Honest Account of the Journey to Motherhood”
—Bookpage, March 29, 2007